Documentary & Biography TV Shows

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

The Last Dance
The Last Dance
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
30 For 30
30 For 30
The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch
The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch
20/20
20/20
Unexpected
Unexpected
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Total Bellas
Total Bellas
Dateline
Dateline
Snapped
Snapped
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Intervention
Intervention
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Kings of Pain
Kings of Pain
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Rust Valley Restorers
Rust Valley Restorers
Family Karma
Family Karma
Surviving R. Kelly
Surviving R. Kelly
The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team
The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team
Lost Gold of World War II
Lost Gold of World War II
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Cartel Crew
Cartel Crew
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Dark Side of the Ring
Dark Side of the Ring
Deadly Sins
Deadly Sins
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
American Experience
American Experience
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Evil Lives Here
Evil Lives Here
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
I Survived
I Survived
Below Deck Mediterranean
Below Deck Mediterranean
Breaking the Band
Breaking the Band
The Bureau
The Bureau
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Ghost Nation
Ghost Nation
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
River Monsters
River Monsters
Human Planet
Human Planet
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Naked SNCTM
Naked SNCTM
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Aussie Gold Hunters
Aussie Gold Hunters
American Gangster
American Gangster
Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians
Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Spy in the Wild
Spy in the Wild
See No Evil
See No Evil
Accused: Guilty or Innocent?
Accused: Guilty or Innocent?
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Survivorman
Survivorman
Paranormal 911
Paranormal 911
Biography
Biography
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
How It's Made
How It's Made
7 Deadly Sins
7 Deadly Sins
One Strange Rock
One Strange Rock
QB1: Beyond the Lights
QB1: Beyond the Lights
No One Saw a Thing
No One Saw a Thing
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
The World's Most Extraordinary Homes
The World's Most Extraordinary Homes
Disappeared
Disappeared
National Geographic Documentaries
National Geographic Documentaries
The Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez
The Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez
Drain the Oceans
Drain the Oceans
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Food That Built America
The Food That Built America
Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux
Wild Wild Country
Wild Wild Country
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On
People Just Do Nothing
People Just Do Nothing
Lockup
Lockup
Undercover Billionaire
Undercover Billionaire
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits
Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Evil Genius
Evil Genius
Punk
Punk
Simply Ming
Simply Ming
This American Life
This American Life
Black Love
Black Love
Justin Bieber: Seasons
Justin Bieber: Seasons
Taboo
Taboo
Ride with Norman Reedus
Ride with Norman Reedus
Orangutan Jungle School
Orangutan Jungle School
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Port Protection
Port Protection
Sensing Murder
Sensing Murder
The Skinny Dip
The Skinny Dip